Feds launch investigation into illegal gambling - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Feds launch investigation into illegal gambling

by Nick Delgado

Guam - Illegal gambling is a problem that's been going on for decades on the island.  From the once popular pachinko machines and slot machines being confiscated to speed bingo and gambling operations opening up shop around the island. Now, the U.S. Attorney's Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other federal agencies confirm an ongoing investigation into the matter.

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. That appears to be the motto of the Overseas Chinese Association Center, which has been the focus of local and more recently federal investigations for illegal gambling. Federal agents conducted at least three raids this week as they investigate alleged illegal gambling at various locations around the island. Agents targeted the former MGM Spa in Tamuning, which has been closed for more than a year, the Crazy Horse strip Club in Tumon and the popular Paradise Bingo held at the Royal Orchid Hotel. 

Agents were seen entering the room where bingo is played and escorted to a backroom, possibly a suite.

KUAM News pulled the business licenses of MGM Spa, Crazy Horse and Paradise Bingo. Rev & Tax officials say that all three businesses are under the same non-profit organization - the Overseas Chinese Association Center. KUAM News contacted the Association's president, Betsy Ho, who said she had no comment about the FBI raids.

Now, this isn't the first time this non-profit organization has been accused of running illegal gambling operations. In fact, the organization has been engaged in this activity for more than a decade. The Association previously ran tax-exempt speed bingo parlors that popped up around the island. In 2006, the Association grossed almost $6 million in a single year.

In 2008 a KUAM News investigation uncovered an illegal 24-hour casino operating in Tamuning under the guise of the Chinese Association's "Carnival of Lights". The organization, at the time was run by Wai Kam Ho (aka, "Kent Wai Ho:"), who previously pleaded guilty to gambling as a misdemeanor in 2003. That charge stemmed from a November 2000 Guam Police raid of a Tumon facility where authorities confiscated gambling paraphernalia and a significant amount of cash. After several years of going through the court system, ho eventually paid a $1,000 fine.

Ho was the president of the Association that runs Paradise and Isla Bingo up until 2007 with Jimmy Hsieh as secretary and Corinna Gutierrez-Ludwig the treasurer. The 2010 Paradise Bingo business license shows Betsy Ho as the president, Hsieh as the secretary and Young Joo as the treasurer.

According to the business licenses, Wai Kam Ho is currently the president of MGM Spa and Crazy Horse. It's unclear what federal authorities found when they executed the warrants as the case remains under investigation.

The U.S. Attorney's Office can only confirm that they are looking into illegal gambling activities and that warrants were executed.  They are unable to comment any further as the matter is pending.

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